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Understanding Men’s Needs: Questions for Finding What Men Want in Flooring

The science behind how men shop, and how to ask the questions that give them what they want.                    

"Save me time, get me out of here—that’s how men shop. And if you’re a sales rep who’s on the showroom floor every day, it’s probably no surprise. What’s less well-known, however, is how to make that happen.

With science and some proven experience, we pulled together the research that sales personnel can use right now, in their own stores. And, that new research shows that men value three things about the retail shopping experience:

  1. Finding great products in stock
  2. A fast checkout experience
  3. Assistance in the store—believe it or not, men want your help

Women will do a stack of research before they walk in the store, but “men don’t typically do that,” says Trish Whipple Kemerly, Ph.D., lecturer in Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies from the University of North Carolina in the USA.                        

Men need more help finding where the best products are and how much they need of those products. They also want that help in a very focused and specific way, say experts.

Written by the Verde Group with the Baker Retailing Initiative and the Wharton School of Business, the study “He Buys, She Shops: A Study of Gender Differences In The Retail Experience” has insights to give you new, proven strategies for approaching male customers.                        

Why? Because when men like shopping with you, they talk about it more than women. “On average, [men] will tell nearly 50 percent more people about their shopping experience,” according to the study. "                        

Ask this: What’s your project?

"Men ages 18 to 40 say they want sales personnel to offer advice or choices and explain the product, according to the study.

Men come in more from the technical side of things, says Dean Wright, vice president, retail sales at McSwain Carpets and Floors in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Sales personnel should ask questions about the project, where the floor will be installed, and narrow down the look the customer is going for.                        

Shelby Tilley, a design specialist at Carpet Super Mart in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, has it down to three questions: What’s your price point, where is the flooring going in your house, and what don’t you like about the flooring you have now?

“After that, if you’re just quiet, they’ll tell you everything,” Tilley says. Then, she works toward presenting them with three choices. Any more than that is too overwhelming, she says."                        

Ask this: You don’t mind if I write while we talk? It’ll save time once we get to the paperwork.

"When it’s time to pay, men want to move through the payment process as quickly as possible.

Women are more forgiving in the checkout process, Wright says, but men can get really frustrated when there are problems. Get all your facts and details in writing to make sure the closing process goes smoothly.

Tilley does all the in-store paperwork after customers leave the store, and usually has two quotes ready, so when they walk through the door the next day, “I can just click-to-sale.”

Ask this: How quickly do you need it installed?

"Men are more likely to walk away from a store when a product they want isn’t available.

Check the availability of the product as you’re going through the process, Wright says. Most manufacturers allow you to reserve products, or you might find that one product is immediately available, and another is on back order. Having that information handy can really help men along in the process.

“While they’re here,” Tilley says, “I call the mill and ask, ’Do you have it? Is it in stock?’”. 

Ask this: What are your overall flooring needs?

"People—not just men—are more pressed for time than ever. They don’t want to feel like they’re wasting their time, so quickly pinpoint what those needs look like when working with a customer. “Say something like, ‘I know there are a stack of products out there, but I’m confident we can find exactly what you need right here,’” says Kemerly.                        

Men also tend to follow a utilitarian, logic-based approach. “You need to tell them why they should buy your products, and why it makes sense for them to purchase it. Get to the point quickly, focus on the products, and use active statements that demonstrate value,” according to “Women vs. Men—Gender Differences in Decision Making.”